Yeats, Paris nude and ‘Toymakers’ are de Veres highlights
First big winter art sales has plenty for art investors at range of prices
Lot 46, “The Night has Gone” by Jack B Yeats: has an estimate of €250,000-€350,000.
The first of the big Dublin winter art auctions takes place at de Veres on Tuesday, November 21st, and includes two major oil paintings by Jack B Yeats. It has been the year of Yeats – this is the 60th anniversary of the artist’s death – and numerous of his works have already gone under the hammer during the past few months.
De Veres said the most expensive painting in their sale is Lot 46, The Night has Gone by Jack B Yeats, with an estimate of €250,000-€350,000. Measuring 18x24 inches, the oil-on-canvas was painted in 1947 – 10 years before he died – and is described, by the auctioneers, as “perhaps the finest Yeats to come to the market in recent years”.
That’s debatable – in light of the other paintings by the artist coming to market this week alone. In fact, the painting last appeared at auction just five years ago – also at de Veres – when it sold for €225,000 (the estimate then was €150,000-€200,000).
It depicts, according to catalogue notes, “The artist walking alone in the landscape, his head surrounded by the night sky above the low horizon. But the night is rolling away, and light is breaking out in the east”.
Yeats made the painting in the weeks following the death of his wife Cottie and, according to art critic Dr Róisín Kennedy, the reference to night in the title could have been inspired by a verse from the book of Revelations that was read at Cottie’s funeral: “And there shall be no night there.”
Lot 41, Muldoon & Rattlesnake also by Jack B Yeats, is estimated at €80,000- €120,000. The oil-on-canvas measures 9x14 inches and dates from 1928. It depicts Mike Muldoon – a famous amateur jockey in late 19th-century Sligo on his horse Rattlesnake during a race on Drumcliffe Strand with Ben Bulben in the background. The painting last appeared at auction – also at de Veres – in 2009 and sold for €70,000.
There are also less expensive pieces by Yeats: early watercolours of young men – Lot 44, entitled Michael (€10,000- €15,000), and Lot 45, Young John (€8,000- €12,000).
Where there’s Yeats, Paul Henry can’t be far away and, sure enough, there are two, pun-intended, bog-standard scenes of the west of Ireland by him: Lot 9, The Road by the Lough (€25,000-€35,000) and Lot 12, the vaguely titled In the West of Ireland (€50,000 – 70,000).
A tougher sell could be Lot 43, Nu au Canapé Rouge – a nude sprawled on a red sofa – by Roderic O’Conor. The title is in French because the Roscommon-born artist lived and worked in France, where he died in 1940. This canvas was painted in the artist’s studio at 102 rue du Cherche-midi, Paris, and was originally sold in the 1956 studio auction of O’Conor’s works at Hôtel Drouot – the famous Parisian auction house.
The painting was acquired by a private collector in France and then turned up in the Irish sale at Sotheby’s in 2002 with a whopping top estimate of £500,000 but it failed to sell. Now its valuation has been absolutely slashed almost tenfold – to just €50,000-€70,000.
A painting by the artist from the same period, Nude Seated on a Chaise Longue with a top estimate of €100,000 failed to sell in Sotheby’s Irish sale in London two months ago. Last year, Nude Bathing by O’Conor failed to sell at Bonhams in London where it had a top estimate of €80,000. It failed, again, at Whyte’s in Dublin last month despite having its top estimate chopped to just €20,000. O’Conor seems to be out of fashion now. When – or if – he’ll return to favour is guesswork.
A very topical image for the time of year is Lot 99, Toymakers, by Aloysius O’Kelly, a Dublin-born artist who emigrated to America in 1895 and died in New York in 1936. The oil-on-canvas, measuring 24x20 inches, estimated at €6,000-€8,000, is dated from the early 20th century and depicts what was then a burgeoning industry in the United States – commercial toymaking.
A more expensive lot with a horsey theme is Lot 8, Mountain Summit by Patrick Hennessy (€14,000-€18,000), which shows two white Connemara ponies in a rocky landscape. The painting was once in the Bank of Ireland’s corporate art collection.
There are 131 lots in the sale and other artists featured include Mary Swanzy, May Guinness, Markey Robinson, Harry Kernoff, Sean Keating, Norah McGuinness, Martin Gale, Donald teskey and Basil Blackshaw.
De Veres Irish Art Auction, Tuesday, November 21st, at 6pm in the Royal College of Physicians, No 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Viewing is at the de Veres Gallery, 35 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, this weekend. For online catalogue and bidding, see deveres.ie